Simplicity is the best policy

Few days ago I came across a story here. In this story, an assembly line worker suggests a simple, low-cost but highly effective solution to the problem for which engineers had developed a complex and expensive solution. Why am I referring to this story today? Because, I notice lot of people having a misconception that you need to have a complex system to solve a complex problem.

People innovate and develop solutions or machines to reduce human efforts. In other words, machines or solutions are developed to simply our day-to-day activities. By developing complex systems, most of us don’t realize that:

  • Instead of simplifying something, we have actually transferred the problem to another new system: Complex solutions give us an impression that it solves the problem completely. But in reality, it might end up creating new problems for you. This new problem could be in the form of maintenance or in the form of some hidden cost.
  • Complex solutions are often too costly: This means that only few rich people will be able to use the solution.

I am sure that most of us would have heard about interactive whiteboards (also known as smart boards). These boards are quite costly as they would cost you at least few hundred thousand rupees. Due to this high cost, lot of schools and colleges cannot enjoy the benefits of such iterative systems. Now, is there a cheaper and simpler solution to this problem?

Of course there is!!! Johnny Chung Lee, who works as a researcher at Microsoft – Applied sciences, has developed a simple systems that achieves most of the functionality provided by commercial smart boards at fraction of their cost. His project makes use of an IR pen, Nintendo Wii remote and a small software application. You can watch the following video to know how this system works:

Next time, before developing any solutions or systems, try to ask yourself a question: “Is this the only way of doing this? Can there be simple way to do it?”

I am sure you will definitely find an answer :)

Comments

  1. Alan Lobo says:

    complex solutions are proposed and sold for only 1 reason: to create a hype about it, and make use of the unknown factor to extract money from the client.
    It also gives the impression that something big and complicated is happening and hence the cost justification not to mention bragging rights – and people are willing to do extra work just to show that they have a software and are using it.

    all in all its a very interesting mind game ;-)

  2. Nice.

    The problem is that Imitators out weigh innovators. So somebody comes up with a solution and it works. Lots of people will just follow without trying to figure if the solution solves all the problems, does it in the best way possible and so on.

    And of course the most obvious way to trump competitors is by adding that one more extra feature which adds bloat and makes things complicated. Sticking to essential features is hard but very rewarding. => http://gettingreal.37signals.com/ch05_Half_Not_Half_Assed.php

  3. sehar qureshi.... says:

    Is simplicity really a best policy?????

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